Smoking cigarettes, exposure to dust particles and pollution and a couple of rare genetic factors can cause chronic lung diseases to affect your ability to breathe. One lung disease that millions of people are diagnosed with is emphysema.
Emphysema is a form of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that usually works with chronic bronchitis to create shortness of breath that makes living your daily life a challenge. Emphysema is not a curable disease and the scar tissue it creates is irreversible. There are treatments, though, that can help slow the progression of emphysema and control the severity of its symptoms.
How does emphysema damage the lungs?
Your lungs are filled with a lot of tiny air sacs called alveoli. These air sacs are responsible for exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from your bloodstream. Emphysema develops as irritations, such as cigarette smoke, cause inflammation in the lungs.
Prolonged inflammation can start to damage the lung tissue in the air sacs, which destroys the surface area of the air sacs and makes them permanently harden as scar tissue. The air sacs need to be flexible and have a lot of surface area to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. Old air gets trapped easily when they’re less flexible due to scar tissue, which blocks new air from getting into your lungs.
Emphysema progresses in four stages. In its early stages, it has not affected your lung function too much but will continue to advance, especially without treatment. The four stages of emphysema are:
- Stage 1: Lung function of 80 percent or more
- Stage 2: Lung function of 50 to 79 percent
- Stage 3: Lung function of 30 to 49 percent
- Stage 4: Lung function of less than 30 percent
Emphysema in the later stages displays more severe symptoms and requires more treatments to effectively manage the disease and help you breathe easier.
Treating emphysema at the Lung Health Institute
Most people who have emphysema are prescribed medications that help open the airways such as bronchodilators or corticosteroids. Supplemental oxygen is necessary in advanced stages of emphysema that are severely blocking oxygen from entering your body.
One treatment that can help reduce inflammation with very few side-effects is lung restoration treatment™ from the Lung Health Institute. This is a form of cellular therapy, which is a treatment that uses healing cells from your own body to heal damaged tissue. The procedure is fast, minimally invasive and produces improved lung function within three months for more than 85 percent of our patients.
Contact the Lung Health Institute today if you’re suffering from emphysema or another chronic lung illness and would like help Breathing Easier™.